Having already performed around the world and gathered a loyal following along the way, Yungblud (aka Dominic Harrison) has risen from his Doncaster roots to become one of the most exciting, hotly-tipped artists around today.
January 2018 marked the release of Yungblud’s eponymous debut EP, and he looks set to enjoy a great year all round. We caught up with the talented Yorkshire artist to discuss the EP, his energetic live performances, rock ‘n’ roll and lots more.
Firstly, for anybody who hasn’t heard of you, can you give a bit of a background on your career and how you got into music?
Yeah. I think I was brought up in a family that was very musically influenced, it was always on everywhere I went – like if I went to my gran’s house or whatever. There’s literally a picture of me fresh out the hospital 6 hours old with a ukulele on my lap and microphone next to me, so I couldn’t really have done anything else!
Your unique sound is a nice blend of genres, what are the influences behind this?
I was always simultaneously enthralled and fell in love with hip hop and rock & roll. I just believe that these genres of music are about more than just the music, they’re an attitude to comment on things. Musically, I loved the way they moved. They made me feel so into my music and I just wanted to mix the genres that inspired me – mix them all up in one pot and see what madness comes out.
Can you talk us through, track by track, your debut, self-titled EP?
‘King Charles’ was the first song where I kind of figured out who I was as an artist and exactly what I wanted to say. That track talks about me fundamentally being angry about the state of the world and what was going on in my head at that time. I think the world right now is such a confusing place for young people and we’re a generation that’s really smart and clued up. We know the world we want to live in but it’s almost being held back by a generation that aren’t ready for it to go there or just don’t quite understand us yet.
‘I Love You, Will You Marry Me?’ is a song that’s really close to home. It’s a modern twisted love story about two young people who grew up on an estate in Sheffield called Park Hill. It’s an estate which looks over the whole of Sheffield, over high rises connected by bridges, and one day the boy in the relationship suspended himself over one of the bridges and spray painted “I love you, will you marry me” onto it – and that’s how he proposed.
But then the relationship took a bad turn – social services said he wasn’t fit to be a father and then sadly the girl later died. Corporate companies exploited the graffiti and put neon lights over it, making it a mascot for Sheffield, but never actually gave him a penny and basically just allowed him to fall into homelessness. I think that’s just wrong.
I guess in a way it’s about me growing up too, as I always felt I was a bit misunderstood. Just because I didn’t conform into a box, people thought I was naughty or an outsider. It was just kind of my comment that all you can ever be is yourself and that’s why you’ve just got to express yourself.
‘Tin Pan Boy’ is about a place where I spent a lot of time growing up – Soho. That area is full of so much soul and so much heart and I grew up in the independent arts and music shops where I first picked up a guitar. Right now there’s massive redevelopments going on which is forcing independent business out and I don’t want to live in a world where I walk down a street and there’s 14 coffee shops in a row – that makes me angry.
Finally, the most important track on the EP is a song called ‘Polygraph Eyes’, which talks about sexual assault and drunk girls being taken advantage of by boys on nights out. Initially it was something I kind of saw going out when I was growing up, I saw these things in my teens and it never really resonated until I was older.
This issue is fundamentally wrong and it needs to be spoken about so it can be stamped out as soon as possible – it needs to remain at the forefront of our minds. I’ve got two younger sisters and my mum was always very opinionated so I’ve always been surrounded by very strong women in my life. I just thought it was a song that I needed to write.
The female empowerment movement that’s going on at the minute is just so amazing, I can’t quite believe it’s not happened before. I needed to have my say on it – I didn’t want to remain silent in the corner.
You have great stage presence and from the clips I’ve seen you seem to ooze confidence. Has this always been the case and is it something that comes naturally to you?
I’ve always just loved showing off I think, all my life. I was always inspired by front men like Freddie Mercury and Mick Jagger, people who really put on a performance. Every time I go on stage I feel like I can let out my mental, fun yet slightly psychotic personality out. People don’t look at me like I’m an idiot so yeah, it’s cool, I always love playing a live show.
Everything seems to be coming together nicely for you right now. I noticed the Times Square advert, has it all been a whirlwind? Are you still coming to terms with your rise in popularity?
Yeah I think it’s been absolutely crazy, it’s just been mental. Every night seeing full rooms and the way people are responding to the music and connecting to it on a personal level is just blowing my mind every single day.
And you were described by Wonderland Magazine as being the ‘new rock n roll star’. Is this something you perceive yourself to be? Do you feel like there is still a place for rock ‘n’ roll stars in modern society?
I think rock & roll right now is in such a bad place, it’s almost in a hospital bed. I think it’s because nobody is really representing it. For me, rock & roll is an attitude, it’s not just for lads or girls bashing the shit out of their instruments on stage. It’s an attitude and it’s about what you’re representing and what you’re saying. I think everything right now in rock & roll and pop music has become so squeaky clean, and that’s why I love urban music so much because it’s representing something real.
What’s the best gig you’ve ever played to date?
Probably the other night in Amsterdam, it was just insane. It went off from the first beat to the last and everyone was jumping and having a good time. It was crazy but I tried to act cool.
And what’s the worst gig and why?
Oooh. I remember once playing a show at some festival and everything just went wrong. My guitar went out of tune, I dropped the fucking mic – like it was just one of those shows where you just get off stage like “SH*T!”
I also have to ask about the hilarious recent video of you throwing the t-shirt onto the ceiling at a gig. What was that all about?
It was the last white t-shirt of the whole entire tour, one of the last shows in Europe. So instead of selling it I just wanted to write a message like “last white t-shirt of the European tour 2018 thank you so much for coming” and I sat down for half an hour creating this artwork for it. I spent ages trying to make it look cool and I thought after the first encore the crowd are gonna love this.
I turned around because I didn’t want to be biased and throw it to anyone in particular. I chucked it over my head and it went about 15 foot in the air and it just literally got stuck on this one cm pin – I couldn’t believe it.
What are your plans for 2018? Gigs, festivals, new music etc.
So much new music is coming out. I’m ready to go, I’m gonna be touring in the UK, Europe, Australia, America, and doing loads of festivals. It’s actually tiring me out looking at the schedule for the summer so I’m just excited and I can’t wait to get going. So much stuff will be coming your way soon!
If you haven’t checked out the Yungblud EP, then make sure you do. Big things are predicted this year!